For the past month, it seems as though the entire world has been under quarantine due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has been officially declared as a pandemic. Originating in China, the virus soon led to hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases and deaths across Asia and Europe.
North America showed a large spike in COVID-19 cases in the middle of March, causing the United States, Canada, and other countries to close down all non-essential businesses, schools, and entertainment venues, such as movie theatres, concert halls, lecture halls, etc.
Everyone is left with only one thing to do: stay at home.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s record of all coronavirus cases globally, over two million people have tested positive for the virus with approximately 136,000 dead. Currently, the United States has surpassed China and Italy in its amount of confirmed cases, and is now the most affected country.
With restaurants, bars, and “non-essential” stores closed – to name a few – people are practicing social distancing in order to flatten the curve and beat the pandemic together as a society. Everyone is left with only one thing to do: stay at home.
But then what are we left to do at home all day? Answer: binging the shows and movies we always put off. Video streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, unsurprisingly, have been successful during these difficult times while other businesses and the overall stock market have been suffering.
WarnerMedia, for example, observed the amount of time their subscribers have spent on their streaming service over the last couple of weeks: HBO Now shows a 65% increase in binge-watching television series, while binge-viewing movies presented a 70% increase during the first month of quarantine.
Even though Netflix is not releasing the numbers, chief content officer Ted Sarandos claims that the video streaming platform is also displaying a huge surge in streams during these difficult times. In addition, Disney Plus received a massive boost in usage and subscription signups, specifically between March 14th and March 16th, when social isolation began in the United States and Canada.
The success that multiple video streaming services are experiencing during quarantine and social distancing has been recognized by several governments. Since video streaming platforms take up plenty of bandwidth, the EU has asked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, and other video platforms to reduce the streaming quality in Europe in order for movies and television series to be available at one press of a button.
Quarantine and bingeing are actually a match made in some macabre sort of heaven
Essentially, the combination of people isolating themselves within their homes and the immediate availability of an array of media is seemingly perfect. “Quarantine and bingeing are actually a match made in some macabre sort of heaven,” said Robert Thompson, a director for the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
In the past month, many video streaming companies have uploaded movies, including Contagion and Outbreak, that exemplify immense similarities to the current situation across the globe. Contagion is a 2011 disaster movie with an A-list ensemble cast that explores the instability of society in the midst of a deadly virus. The virus originates in Hong-Kong (specifically from bats), spreads quickly all over the world, and the only remedies are hand-washing and social distancing.
Although the movie did not do well critically at the time, the spread of COVID-19 created a new-found following for this film. Once the virus began to spread globally in January, the movie title charted on Google Trends, while it was ranked as the distributor Warner Bros’ 270th most popular movie in December 2019, it is now the second most watched movie this year.
As Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other video streaming platforms add these movies, their businesses will continue to be prosperous during an economic low.
With the quarantine remaining for another couple months, video streaming services seem to be one of the few outlets people have at a moment of crisis, limited contact, and overall fear. So sit back, turn on a flick on Netflix, and try to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.